From last to first.
That’s what the Dryden High boys basketball team did a year ago, going from the cellar of the Interscholastic Athletic Conference’s North Large division in 2009-10 to winning it last season.
As senior standout Gage Ellis and the rest of the Lions are already finding out in the early season, however, being the hunted is a lot tougher than being the hunter.
Dryden is off to a 1-2 start this season, winning its season opener, 71-68, at defending IAC Small North division champion Groton before dropping a 57-48 home decision to division foe Lansing last Friday and a 50-48 thriller to Moravia on Tuesday.
And just as there is no more sneaking up on opponents for the Lions this year, none of Dryden’s opponents this winter will be likely to leave the 6-foot-5 Ellis off of their scouting reports.
A first-team North Division all-star last season and a four-year varsity player, Ellis poured in 20 points and five rebounds in the season opener, adding 15 points against the rival Bobcats and 12 more in Tuesday’s loss to the Blue Devils.
In the first winter installment of “Five Questions,” we ask Ellis about his partnership with classmate Bryan Norman, which professional athlete he looks up to and how Moravia fits into his fondest basketball memory:
Which team do you consider your biggest rival?
Lansing is the No. 1 team that we need to beat next time we play against them. (Last week) it was neck and neck all the way down to the fourth quarter and we just lost it.
What is your on- and off-court relationship with teammate Bryan Norman (14.6 ppg.)?
I’ve known him ever since I moved here in sixth grade. He’s a great player. We play well together. We’ve played on the same team and played the same way ever since modified. Off the court, we’re just great friends. We have practically every class together as well, so it’s nice.
What has changed since your team won the division last season?
Since last year, me and Norman pretty much have targets on our backs this year, from every team we’re playing against. I know that we lost Friday against Lansing which was a divisional game, and one thing I believe we have to work on since last year would be defense.
Is there a professional basketball player you fashion your game after?
Kevin Garnett. I know he’s not a good player to look up to because of the whole fighting thing and what not, but I’ve looked up to him ever since modified.
What is your fondest basketball memory?
Dunking on Dylan Powers from Moravia last year, at home.